Sunday, 15 June 2014

Harmless Words

On Facebook I often see a caption that states, "I am a freak and I don't care. Share if you agree".
I will never share this.
As someone who grew up with disabilities, I was often called names and one of those was "Freak".
Homophobia and Transphobia also contributed to my sense of isolation - to the extent that I took the side of the bullies and also considered myself a "Freak".
Thus this caption disturbs me as I can't help but interpret it as others falling into the same trap I did of siding with the bullies of this world.
I guess it is supposed to be empowering - a "We're all different. So why worry about being different?" kind of message - except I don't find the language at all empowering. Why use the word "Freak"? Why label ourselves in such a way?
To me, it would be the same as stating, "I am a tranny and I don't care".
The word "Tranny" is as loaded with hate as the word "Freak", so I would very much care if I or others saw myself as a "Tranny"!
I suppose, though, that there is an argument of trying to claim back these words of hate.
People point to the word "Nigger" and say that word has been claimed back. I disagree.
For, even though the black community now use that word amongst themselves, if I were to call someone "Nigger" I would cause just as much offense as ever. And I don't refuse to use that word because the black community now use it but because I have been educated as to how offensive that word is.
So what claiming back has actually taken place? The black community have not claimed that word back from anyone. It still exists with all it's potency but people now choose not to use it.
And that I believe is the key to all this: We need to be making better choices.
You can't force people not to use words. No matter which word you ban, another will arrive to take it's place.
Instead we need better education and kinder hearts so that the desire to use words as weapons is no longer there.
After all, it is not the weapon that causes the harm but the person who uses it.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Why I'll Be Voting Labour At The 2015 General Election

I have been able to vote for the last 23 years and never in those 23 years have I ever voted Labour at a General Election.
Not in 1992 when the Tories were in disarray and another 5 years of their governence seemed a disaster in waiting. Not in 1997 when the disaster had materialised and Tony Blair swept 'New' Labour to a landslide victory. Not in 2001 when Blair returned 'New' Labour for another turbulent 4 years. Not in 2005 when Blair was persona non grata and Gordon Brown was impatiently waiting in the wings. And definitely not in 2010 after Brown had lead the country through the worst disaster in memory!
No, I grew up in a family where Liberal policies were promoted and, thus, my inclination has always been to vote Lib Dem.
But now, having had 4 years in a pact with the Tories where they have proved themselves to be toothless/clueless, the Lib Dems have proven themselves to be a very undesirable prospect. I would not want them in government with Clegg as their leader even if they paid me a million pounds for my vote (regardless of the illegality of that prospect)!
Thus, being the realist I am (or like to think I am), I have two choices come the next election: The Tories or Labour.
Well, similarly to Labour, I have never voted Conservative either and I definitely would not volunteer next year to give them another 5 years in government!
I know Labour put this country in an awful mess but during the last 4 years I have seen things get worse not better!
I have seen the homeless kicked around from pillar to post and illogically blamed for the country's poverty. I have seen all measures to bring cultural prosperity to this country attacked and curtailed. I have seen migrants blamed for people being out of work even whilst the unemployment figures plummet. I have seen the sick and disabled demonised and treated appallingly by people totally unqualified to 'judge' their ailments. I have seen Job Centres turn from helping people into work to actively discouraging people to seek employment and, hand in hand with that, punish the job seekers whenever they don't play the Job Centre's games. I have seen teachers quit teaching kids in despair at the government's constant meddling with standards. I have seen workers have more and more of their rights taken away to the extent that we effectively now have a slave workforce. I have seen the cost of living rise and the gap between the haves and have nots widen until it is now positively gaping. And, just last week, the government gave companies the power to frack without informing the residents of the houses under which they will lay their pipelines! 
If this doesn't add up to a total disregard for the voting population as a whole (with the obvious exception of bankers and big business) I don't know what does! And, by God and every other power going, I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER FIVE YEARS OF THIS!!
No, what I would much rather is the brake applied to this runaway train and, as things stand, Labour are the only ones with any realistic opportunity to do so.
As I say, I know Labour put this country in an awful mess and they may very well continue what they started (and the coalition also continued) but, at this moment in time, I can only live in hope.
I can only hope that the general population will be eased out of the many forms of poverty enveloping them. I can only hope that the general population will be freed from the new slavehood they're being shovelled towards. I can only hope that Labour will return to their traditions of siding with the general population against their cruel and uncaring masters. And it is this hope that I choose to invest in Labour at the next General Election.
As I say, I live in hope.